A Few Words About A few words about...™ Bleak House -- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Aug 19, 2009.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist

    Feb 8, 1999
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    Robert Harris
    "The first thing we need to do is hang all the lawyers."

    As was the norm for the era, Charles Dickens' Bleak House was published in parts (19 of them) beginning in March of 1852 through November of 1853. The serialized publication was followed by bound copies later in 1853.

    What must be acknowledged when viewing a film or television adaptation, is how well (or not) the work has been adapted to the screen, and in this example from the BBC in 2005, the adaptation is superb. Taking a 600+ page novel and bringing it down to 465 minutes (which may sound like a long time -- it's rather like sitting through Gone with the Wind twice) is a massive achievement by screenwriter Andrew Davies.

    Everything about the era is beautifully reproduced, albiet obviously on controlled budget, with a superb cast led by Anna Maxwell Martin, Denis Lawson, Carey Mulligan, Gillian Anderson, Hugo Speer, Philip Davis, and at the top of the heap, playing an individual who is most assuredly one Dickens' most hateful and irredeemable characters, lawyer Mr. Tulkinghorn, the brilliant Charles Dance.

    While many of these names, possibly short of Ms. Anderson, may be unknown to audiences here in the Colonies, their work will quickly become appreciated by all who give this series a chance.

    Moving to the technical, this Bleak House (which according to IMDb is the sixth itineration of the work, the earliest going back to 1920) was photographed in HD. Bleak House is a magnificent use of the format, with sharp imagery, black blacks, and a color palette that represents the era to perfection.

    There have been many very fine adaptations of Mr. Dickens work over the decades. My personal favorite has always been David Lean's Great Expectations (1946) available on Criterion.

    This particular Dickens, with its Davies screenplay and direction by Justin Chadwick and Susanna White, brings Dickens not so much kicking and screaming, but rather in a most artistic and controlled fashion, into the 21st century. I believe Sir David would give it a huge thumbs up.

    This is brilliant filmmaking, beautifully brought to Blu-ray.

    Very Highly Recommended.

  2. GlennH

    GlennH Cinematographer

    Sep 28, 1998
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    Shake me up, Judy!!

    This was the first thing my family watched (over a period of a couple of weeks) on Blu-ray after getting the Oppo BD83 player a few months ago. It was an excellent adaptation, with very good performances, and nearly flawless picture and sound quality.

    Now I'm waiting for BBC to release the recent "Little Dorrit" adaptation on Blu-ray too. We watched that one on PBS in HD. It would be well-suited to the same HD treatment.
  3. benbess

    benbess Cinematographer

    Sep 8, 2009
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    Ben Hufbauer
    I own this show on blu-ray and love it. I would call it a lavish production by BBC standards. As RAH says Charles Dance is impressive and frightening. The whole cast is spot on. Wonderful music by John Lunn. Outstanding production, which really looks like the 19th century, in all its gritty gory detail. Beautiful lighting that's dim and yet clear at the same time.

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